Interview with Online Investment Expert Jeff Hunt

Interview with Online Investment Expert Jeff Hunt

We caught up with website investor and internet marketer Jeff Hunt this week. In the interview below, Jeff shares his experiences around becoming an entrepreneur, his favourite monetization methods and growing his own website portfolio.

What was your background before you started operating in the website/online business space and how did you make the switch to being your own boss?

I worked for IBM as a Project Executive, operating 9-figure outsourcing deals for Fortune 100 companies. Then I took a totally opposite direction moving my family to a small central Asian country where we served students and families in a humanitarian role.

While overseas I started some small businesses that needed websites, so I got my feet wet in the internet world for the first time. Soon I discovered that websites were not just marketing channels for brick and mortar businesses but could actually be income-generating businesses in their own right.

Seven years later when we moved back to the United States I had started generating cash flow from my websites. I decided not to reenter the corporate world, and instead to grow my online portfolio primarily through buying websites.

What prompted you to make the jump?

When I bought my first successful website – Note: my first website purchase was NOT successful – I discovered I could make a couple of thousand dollars a month from a relatively simple online business.

I didn’t know exactly how to do it at the time, but I knew that if I could make $2K per month, I could probably grow that to $10K per month. That was the magic moment that convinced me it was possible to do this full time.

What does a typical day look like for an online business investor?

I think it is different for everyone but I start every day at Panera Bread which is a coffee shop/bakery about a mile from my home.  I work from my laptop and sometimes I stay there all day, but usually, I hang out in the morning and work from my home office in the afternoon.

I don’t have an official office because I use freelancers to do all the day-to-day operational tasks. Although I’ve had websites using almost every business model, I tend to focus on content websites that are more passive.

Depending on the phase, there can be plenty of work to do, but it is almost never urgent. That gives me the flexibility to take days or even weeks off to do non-business projects. It also lets me meet with friends, family and other entrepreneurs any time during the day that they are available.

When did you first discover Flippa?

My Flippa profile says I made a purchase 9 years ago. I probably had an account before that.

What is your favourite monetization method?

I love non-transactional monetization because it doesn’t require customer service or personal selling. Display ads, lead generation and affiliate monetization methods fit these criteria.

I’ve done dropship, FBA, SaaS, eCommerce for digital products and straight services business. All have pros and cons.

What are the first three things you look for on a website?

I start with the fundamentals.

Traffic and income graphs should be flat or going up. If there are peaks and valleys, there should be good explanations for those. Age and consistency are important.

I look for inappropriate concentrations. Too much traffic from one source, too high a percentage of traffic landing on one page, too much traffic from the wrong geographies, an unusual mix of device types, concentrations of expense or revenue – all of these are potential negative signals.

There needs to be a well defined and understandable process for customer acquisition. If I don’t understand a repeatable process for getting traffic or customers, I back away.

Why do you buy websites?

I try to identify opportunities that have the potential to be held for the long term. Occasionally something will turn up that is riskier but has some strong upside potential. These deals have to come at a lower multiple to offset the risk. They typically either do well and lend themselves toward a flip, or don’t do well and hopefully at least pay for themselves before going to zero.

What are the steps you take to grow websites that you’ve recently purchased?

The quickest wins are usually in the financial realm. On the revenue side, adding entirely new monetization sources using existing traffic usually increases revenue by more than it cannibalizes. A classic example is adding display ads to a site that is monetized only with affiliate links.

You can also easily increase revenue by patching holes in the funnel. Adding upsells and downsells, optimizing conversion rates, making additional touch points to prospects and following up with existing customers can all yield revenue growth.

Another financial move is eliminating or reducing expenses. Business owners often spend money on non-critical functions or overspend on basics like webhosting or freelancer support.

Traffic improvements often take more time. Basic on-site SEO improvements can sometimes result in substantial traffic growth. Things like site speed, title optimization, heading optimization, and content updates make a difference.

How did you learn how to run and operate a website?

I learn from anywhere I can. The basics of WordPress and setting up a website were all self-taught. But I’ve taken many courses over the years to learn methods and systems. I’ve also hired coaches along the way and pay for membership in high-level mastermind groups. Spending money on mentoring and networking can help you focus and speed up success.

You’ve been focusing a lot more on teaching and coaching recently, even writing a few articles for us talking about website multiples and another discussing how to make one of your website investments passive. Do you still actively buy and sell websites or is most of your time spent helping others acquire and grow their own portfolios?

The vast majority of my time, energy and resources is spent on growing my own website portfolio. I negotiated the sale of two of my sites this morning. While I really enjoying teaching and coaching, my main focus is on growing the value of my website assets for an eventual exit.

You also have several courses and webinars over at FlipMinds. Can you tell us more about what Flipminds is?

Flipminds is a community of entrepreneurs that Sunil Jaiswal has developed over a period of more than 10 years. They are investors in property, traditional business and online businesses.

In the early days, most of the group were property investors. As online real estate became more compelling, I joined the Flipminds team to help train entrepreneurs on how to develop cash flowing assets in the world of web businesses.

Now we have an active member community, mentoring resources and training in topics like paths to Financial Freedom, Website Investing, Property Investing, Online Business and Content Website creation.

When it comes to making mistakes when buying websites, what’s one thing you wish you knew sooner?

It is natural to think that putting less capital at risk is safer than putting more capital at risk. That would be true if all businesses had the same intrinsic risk profile.

But the truth is that older, more established, higher quality online businesses are much safer investments than their less expensive but lower quality counterparts. So I would have avoided many mistakes simply by focusing on businesses with better fundamentals.

That is not to say that it is impossible to find good websites at lower price points. It is also not to say that all, or even most, larger online businesses are low risk. That isn’t true. Even very high-income sites can have attributes that make them bad bets. Websites generally have high ROIs and with those ROIs come risks that have to be accounted for and mitigated.

Compared to 5 years ago, is it easier or more difficult to find a deal when looking for a website? How does the future look for this?

It is more challenging to find underpriced deals today than it was 5 years ago. There are more buyers now and the buyer community is better educated and has more resources for making informed investment decisions.

Additionally, price levels are going up. Multiples are growing not only because more buyers are entering the market but also because website assets have attracted the interest of private equity groups, larger private investors and institutional investors.

Despite the fact that big-money investors have entered the fray, there will continue to be opportunities for buyers and sellers at every price point because there is a market for websites at every stage of size and maturity.

As technology evolves, online apps take on different forms, adapting to a variety of devices and platforms. This creates new business models, new niches and new ways to deliver online solutions that will continue to create opportunities for anyone willing to master a little corner of the market.

I am very optimistic about the marketplace for online business. Economies grow by increasing the productivity of their workforces and websites and internet technologies are key elements of that productivity growth.

 

If you want to learn more about buying an online business, you can sign up for Jeff’s free training course via Flippa here.

Jeff Hunt is an internet investor,  marketer and website owner. He actively buys and grows websites with the intent of creating multiple passive income streams, and enjoys capitalizing on internet opportunities to help others to do the same. You can learn more about Jeff and his courses here.


Tips for first time buyers: You’re about to acquire your next business…so, move everything to the cloud (and take advantage of the migration to SaaS)

Tips for first time buyers: You’re about to acquire your next business…so, move everything to the cloud (and take advantage of the migration to SaaS)

If you and your business are already big users of SaaS based tech then you’ll know exactly what that means and how you’re using it. If so, then you certainly won’t need to read this article. If at the other extreme you think you’re not using Software as a Service at all yet, you’re almost certainly wrong about that. At the moment Dropbox, just for example, is rapidly heading towards a billion individual active users globally, with most of them still on ‘freemium’ access. STOP STORING FILES ON YOUR DESKTOP. Given the stellar SaaS advantages, small business and corporate-based paid premium Dropbox usage is sky-rocketing. So the odds are that you are already, at the very least, using this particular iteration of SaaS very regularly. If your business or start-up enterprise is to prosper, then one key essential is to understand the benefits and costs of the numerous SaaS offerings and lever these to your best advantage.

How much time should you be sending on this?

Chances are that regardless of whether you are selling products, services or personal experiences, your business is based largely on your own and your team’s communication and people skills. So the question is, what proportion of your time should you be spending on managing your IT structures when this isn’t your core business, your passion or your skill set? The answer is obviously, as little as possible. And this is where SaaS comes in.

If you decide to go largely stand-alone or ‘on-premises’ with your IT management then you are committing a significant proportion of your available time and resources to maintaining the currency of applications; creating adequate, retrievable and shareable data; and ultimately taking on the burden of servers, storage and network sharing capabilities. That means you won’t have the time you need to develop your real business – or else you’ll need to hire a specialist in-house IT person or small team, which even if viable isn’t cost effective.

There are intermediate options such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) which comes in at the network sharing stage and provides the external servers and storage. However, it is generally much better to commit from the outset to fuller scale SaaS, which externalises all applications and data management. This enables you to concentrate on core business and to be free of software access constraints so that with no downloaded applications to manage and keep updated you can work from virtually any computer or device in the world, along with other members of your team. The cloud application services, managed by a third-party provider, are run directly through the internet web browser and don’t rely on any downloads or installations by you at all. That means that ‘on the road’ functionality becomes exactly the same as ‘on premises’ functionality for you and every team member.

What are the main advantages?

So, the major advantage of using SaaS is that it frees you to devote your time to what you are really passionate about and trying to achieve in your venture. It’s a great way to launch e-commerce with no software or server issues, no need to buy expensive downloaded software programs, no problems with access from mobile devices, and unlimited capacity for real-time data and document sharing with team members.

SaaS takes on the management of virtualization, in which a local workstation operates exactly as if it was using an installed application without this actually being the case. Additionally it enables users to remotely access their own personalised desktops from any device in virtually any location. Hardware virtualization ultimately enables an off-site third party processor to behave as if was many different individual processors working on the same hardware from team members’ own locations. The advantages include greater efficiency and lower costs as team members can access the company’s networked information from anywhere, embracing the increasingly expected (because cost minimising) BYOD approach.

What about the cost?

The costs of using SaaS are generally very manageable with the key advantage that levels of service access, data storage limits and the like, can be adjusted at any time. SaaS is commonly used to deliver business applications such as accounting programs, customer records software including management of orders or bookings and, for larger businesses, HR management software. Automated multilingual versions of documents can be included. There is obviously much lower up-front cost, as you are essentially renting rather than owning the asset, virtually immediate set-up and access as the applications are already fully configured in the cloud, and there are automatic updates and easily managed scalability, with plan upgrades (or capacity downgrades) adjustable on demand. This flexibility is a great advantage and there is essentially no significant hardware, software or server depreciation to be factored in.

Are there any disadvantages?

There are really very few disadvantages of SaaS. The initially understandable concerns around data security breaches are not really well-founded, as the enormous success of cloud-based accountancy provision such as Xero attests. However, the dependency of SaaS on uninterrupted fast internet connectivity, plus the potentially lower speeds compared to on-premise user applications can cause some occasional headaches.

When you are ready to choose your SaaS provider, then as with any contract it’s a case of ‘buyer beware’. As with everything, it’s easy to enter into a provision agreement but it can be much harder to exit it. In particular, carefully check the provisions for exporting your data to another destination of your direction if you leave that provider – and ensure that the export will be in a standard format which will enable it to port over to another SaaS provider.

Migrating data can be very costly in terms of time and money. That’s why it’s a good idea to move your own business data to a SaaS provider from the very outset or as early as possible. There is no definitive list of pre-eminent SaaS providers, partly because most of them specialise in a particular market segment. Request Service Level Agreements (SLAs) from a few providers and carefully cross-reference them, as well as verifying the vendors’ reputations and their customer reviews. Try to make contact with a couple of their clients directly and find out what they have to say about their experience of service reliability and technical assistance. Compare pricing plans and remember that if a provider’s prices and the promises seem too good to be true – then they almost certainly are!

5 Quick Ways To Boost Online Revenue Without Breaking A Sweat

5 Quick Ways To Boost Online Revenue Without Breaking A Sweat

This guest post was written by Victoria Greene, a freelance writer and founder of the blog site VictoriaEcommerce. You can follow her on Twitter @vickyecommerce.


If you’re an entrepreneur looking to make the most of your new online brand, you can spend hours stressing and still see sluggish sales figures. Quite often, even the most well-intentioned ecommerce merchant can make a few mistakes and entirely miss the mark with their marketing strategy.

This is easy to do, as sites like Google and Facebook regularly change their algorithms and more often than not it’s in favor of the user experience – rather than your business. But don’t worry, this post will offer you five tips for boosting online revenue without even breaking a sweat.

Monitor The Online Chatter

Keep ahead of conversations online with social media monitoring tools. As well as setting up Google Alerts for important industry headlines, you should also identify terms to monitor on social media. Doing this will allow you to jump into interesting conversations and offer your help in the comments section.

Social media analysis tools will also tell you the major influencers in your chosen industry, as well as your audience’s preferred internet haunts. Use these insights to your advantage within your content management strategy.

For more on creating amazing content, check out this previous post.

Opt For Opt-Ins On Your Site

Your ecommerce site needs to capture leads, as well as facilitate sales. If you haven’t set up an email newsletter and email opt-in, get one set up on a site like MailChimp. The first couple of thousand subscribers are free; you will need to start paying for the service when your email list grows.

Your newsletter should present a marketing channel for your best customers. Your email subscribers should receive regular discounts and links to informative content. You can also introduce your new products and run competitions. Do all you can to look after your dedicated 1,000 fans with your email marketing.

Remember, the aim is to get more sign-ups, so use these quick tips:

  • Install a pop-up to appear when your customer lands on one of your pages. Alternatively, if you want your opt-in button to be more subtle, create an animated sign-up link
  • Create a button that includes a small movement or color shift every three-five seconds. This will catch the visitor’s eye without interfering with the primary task of the page
  • Your signup should include a small written Call to Action to give people a reason to click. This could be an offer like free shipping over a certain spend limit or special discounts

Get More Reviews

Reviews offer customers social proof before they buy. It is really the case that the more reviews you have, the more trusted your site becomes in the eyes of consumers. The comments you receive will also provide you with vital feedback on your services. You obviously want to do all you can to get your rating up to five stars.

With all ecommerce hosts, reviews should be included as a default option on all pages. However, to fill your sites with comments, you should also set up an auto email upon purchase. This will trigger your customers to leave a response when their product arrives.

  • Within the post-purchase email, you should also encourage your customers to share their photos of your products on social media.
  • Set up a branded hashtag and make the user-generated content fun to take part in. This will also help you attract views and hopefully reviews you can post elsewhere.

Double Up On Your Facebook Ads

With Facebook advertising, there are many options for brands looking to create a range of sequential advertising campaigns. This is where you ‘pull’ the reader towards your site through a series of ads that pique their interests. For instance, you may start with a video advertisement in your sequence, followed by a free PDF guide ad pushed to those that watched the entire clip.

You can further boost the individual posts by ‘doubling up’ on content. Add a product gallery below the video upload with the click of a button. This will give you the chance to promote specific products on film.

  • You should also look to advertising on alternative social media channels like Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, even Snapchat. Instagram and Snapchat also allow you to experiment with video and filters
  • You can also set up shoppable pins (Pinterest) and galleries (Instagram) where customers can click and buy directly

Upsell And Cross-Sell

Customer lifetime value is a key sales metric you need to boost. The better a customer’s experience, the more likely they are to come back to you in the future and refer a friend. Return custom proves (to the customer) that they must trust your brand.

We are all used to seeing product recommendation tabs scrolling along the bottom of product pages. Set up automated tools that help you generate personalized recommendations based on your visitor’s past behaviors. You can find many applications to run from your online storefront, regardless of which ecommerce platform you use.

  • You can also create upsell and cross-sell opportunities by creating specific product round-up promotions
  • Use audience research to identify common demographic interests and products customers would like to see on your site

Boosting your online revenue comes down to three main things: you need to make your product is valuable to your customers, they need to be ready to buy, and they need to trust your brand. By building social proof, presenting tempting offers, and informing your visitors with relevant content, you can increase sales without breaking a sweat.

Case Study: How One Team Boosted Revenue by 4x with no Additional Traffic

Case Study: How One Team Boosted Revenue by 4x with no Additional Traffic

The Website Acquisition that Boosted Revenues by 4x with no Additional Traffic

In the Summer of 2015, MonetizeMore purchased a polling site called MisterPoll.com, a website that enables users to create polls, share them and then provide the statistic results. At the time of purchase, MisterPoll.com was only running AdSense directly on-page, which MonetizeMore saw as a huge opportunity to increase MisterPoll.com’s ad revenues without even increasing traffic. MonetizeMore has been in the ad optimization industry since 2010 and has some of the best ad optimization tech and experts in the industry. In this case study, the team at MonetizeMore reveals just how we were able to take a site, and within one month, grow the site’s revenue by 4x.

The MonetizeMore team started by implementing the most widely used ad server in the world called DFP (Google owned). The implementation of the ad server enabled the team to run many revenue sources at once, include direct sales ads and incorporate complex ad optimization techniques. The first technique that was implemented was integrating Google Ad Exchange (AdX). Google Ad Exchange is the best performing demand source in the world. It is even more powerful when integrating in DFP using a technique called dynamic allocation. Since Google owns DFP and Ad Exchange, the two technologies are able to communicate with each other so that DFP always knows what AdX will pay for each impression. As a result, the publisher can be confident that AdX only serves when it is the highest paying demand source. This is a very important part of ad optimization and realizing a publishers’ ad revenue potential.

Once DFP and AdX were implemented, MisterPoll.com saw a revenue increase of about 50%. This was a nice increase but MonetizeMore was not done there. The next step was to implement managed demand ad networks. Managed demand ad networks are traditional ad networks that send ad tags to publishers that have passbacks if the ad network is not able to payout on a minimum RPM for that ad impression. They are implemented in DFP at price priority level and the priority levels are adjusted on a daily basis based on past performance. Six managed demand ad networks were implemented and after a month of optimizing, the ad revenues more than doubled.

The last and most important step to ad optimization was implementing header bidding. Header bidding is a similar process to dynamic allocation for non-Google demand sources. Each header bid network makes a bid via an API, then the highest header bid will compete against Google and the managed demand sources. It is called header bidding because it is enabled via a header container technology which is implemented in the header of the page and the auction happens within the browser before the DFP auction. MonetizeMore has a header container called PubGuru.

Header bidding dramatically increases ad revenues and page RPMs for similar reasons that AdX implemented via dynamic allocation increases page RPM. The technology ensures that the highest bidder wins the ad impression. When you maximize the ad revenue for each ad impression rather than educated guesses via managed demand, you see some incredible increases in ad revenue. This boosted the MisterPoll.com revenues to 4x compared to the monthly revenues before the site was acquired. PubGuru header bidding not only increased the ad revenues but it also:

  • Eliminated passback ad impressions which improved site speed
  • Decreased blank ad impressions
  • Increased the accuracy of DFP reports
  • Decreased the daily hours needed for ad optimization

There is no doubt header bidding was the most important implementation on MisterPoll.com that contributed the most to the ad revenue increases and additional benefits. However, the previous 3 steps were integral to the success and also enabled header bidding. If you are considering to purchase a website on Flippa that monetizes via programmatic ads, it is in your best interest to follow the four steps that MonetizeMore followed.

You can complete the four steps on your own or outsource it to a company like MonetizeMore. If you decide to do it on your own, you can use the PubGuru SAAS solution to guide you through each step at your own pace. If you don’t have your own direct account with AdX, you would need to use a company partnered with Google (Like MonetizeMore) to offer AdX demand. If your site gets over 5MM page views per month, you can qualify for a free DFP implementation. If you get more than 20MM page views per month, you can qualify to become a premium publisher and MonetizeMore will handle all ad optimization for you so you can focus on the more important parts of your business.

Whether you decide to outsource your ad optimization or do it in-house, make sure to make a decision and stick to it. The worst thing you can do is ignore this low hanging fruit. Do not settle with just running AdSense. Otherwise, you are leaving a significant portion of revenues on the table, just like MisterPoll.com was.

Secrets to Making Website Investments Passive

Secrets to Making Website Investments Passive

Investing in websites is appealing for several key reasons. The first is the return on investment. High quality websites sell for three times annual earnings which means they are generating 33% profits each year. That’s pretty good right?

You are your own boss when you own a website. That means you have the flexibility to work when you want and as hard or as little as you want.

And finally, there is a pervasive narrative that websites can be passive sources of income. That begs the question:

Can Websites Truly Earn Passive Income?

Cash flow from websites will never be as passive as opening a savings account at a bank and seeing interest from your deposit year after year without lifting a finger. On the other hand, there are many web businesses that run with limited owner involvement because they use tools and methods to reduce or almost eliminate the workload. One of my websites takes no more than three hours per month of effort and consistently earns over $3,000 per month.

In this article I will tell you what to look for if your goal is to buy a passive website. Then we will discuss what you can do if you already have a website which isn’t passive now but could be in the future.

What to Look for in a Passive Website Investment

What Does the Seller Say?

Always look at what the seller has to say about how much work is involved to operate the website, but never believe it.

Is that a bit harsh? Only a bit.

A few sellers may actually remember everything they do and accurately estimate how much time it takes them to do it… but not many of them, I assure you. People are bad at estimating and worse at remembering.

Sellers may have skills and knowledge you don’t have. That means it will take you more time than it takes them, at least at the beginning.  On the other hand, I often buy websites where I have skills the seller doesn’t have and end up saving time because of it.

Nevertheless, talking with the seller about what they do, how they do it and how much time it takes is one of the most important things you can do. Not only will you get a much better idea of what the important tasks are, you will also begin to learn what it would take to make the website truly passive.

Hands-Off Transactional Websites

Many web businesses make their money one transaction at a time. When you are evaluating the business model of a website it is important to look at the steps involved in a transaction. Take an eCommerce jewelry site for example.

A customer visits the site, looks around at different products, adds one to their cart, goes to checkout, enters their contact information and payment method, and then waits for the product to show up at their door. All of that is what the customer does.

Whether that transaction is passive or not is dependent on the process and tools the website is employing. Here is a near worst case, least passive example of what could be happening behind the scenes:

The owner of the site hand makes the jewelry himself and keeps inventory in his home or office. If the jewelry is custom made, the scenario gets even worse.

So when the customer places their order, the owner packages the product for shipping, prints out a label with the customer’s address (or writes it, God forbid), applies postage, takes the package to the post office for shipping, comes home and emails the customer with a tracking number, orders more materials, inventory and shipping supplies to replace what was used, follows up with the customer some time later by email and who knows what else.

However another site might handle the same transaction in a completely automated fashion. The customer places their order in exactly the same way but:

The order gets automatically sent by the website to a manufacturer or distributor. The distributor packages and sends the order to the customer and also sends an email with a tracking number for the shipment. A system generated email is sent to the customer asking for a product review a few days after shipment.

Drop-ship isn’t necessarily more profitable than self-ship, but it is certainly more passive.

When you evaluate a website to buy, think through the steps involved to fulfill a transaction. Who performs each step? Are they automated? Can they be? This is a critical component of your due diligence, whether for an eCommerce site or any other site where a product is purchased one transaction at a time.

What About the Techy Stuff?

Look for sites that are running on industry standard platforms like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. Many sites require very little technical support after they are setup. However, when something does need fixed or improved, it will be much easier and less expensive to find someone to do it if the site is built on industry standard tools. Beware of sites that say they were “custom built” unless you are prepared to pay to have it maintained. I’m not saying custom built sites are bad investments. They may have a unique differentiator that puts them ahead of the competition, but that does not mean that they will be passive plays.

Marketing and Promotion

In some unusual situations, sites have stable or growing traffic without much additional work. I mentioned earlier that I have a site that just seems to keep growing without much help from me. That is rare but I’ll tell you why it doesn’t take much support.

The site was old, almost 15 years old now. It is a content site with long and well written informational articles. The articles are linked extensively one to another. The original owner didn’t do any external link building, so all the authority from the site came naturally. Much of the content is interesting enough to attract comments from the visitors.

The site doesn’t do anything to make Google unhappy like having plagiarized content, paid links from other sites, too many ads, bad formatting for mobile users, old technology or manipulative keyword techniques.

Tip: Look for sites that are completely compliant with the rules of the big players they are dependent on. Content sites are dependent on Google. Amazon affiliate sites are dependent on Amazon.  Others may require ClickBank, Instagram or ShareASale for their survival. This doesn’t mean they will always stay in good graces with their benefactors because those big companies change their minds several times a year. However, starting on the right foot by following the rules puts the business ahead of the vast majority of its competitors.

Many sites operate on a business model that requires manual work. Product sites may get their traffic from PPC that requires campaign management. Services sites may require someone to answer the phone or chat in a chat box. Content sites may require social media promotion. Sales may be dependent on a steady stream of emails or newsletters. Despite these mandatory activities, a site may still be relatively passive as an investment if the tasks are outsourced to an existing team.

Phone numbers and chat boxes on websites are tell-tale signs that a human is at work. Sites that ask you to fill in a form and request a quote probably have to have a real person responding to that quote request. Be aware of those elements of the business model and ask the seller how those tasks can be outsourced or automated.

Growth or Stability?

Keep in mind that it takes less effort to maintain the performance of a site than it does to grow one. There are very few web businesses that will grow without active effort on your part. The trick is to automate, systemize and delegate as you grow. I’ll talk much more about that later on.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can buy and then completely ignore a website. Like any business, if it isn’t growing a little, it will ultimately decline.

Summarizing What to Look For

  • Manual tasks are outsourced or delegated and the resources are willing to continue working on the site after you buy it.
  • Sellers who understand their business model very well. Smart sellers have usually automated or at least documented the key activities of the business.
  • Sites that use industry standard platforms like WordPress or services like Shopify.
  • Sites that have integrated their systems with their suppliers, providers and partners.
  • Sites that have end-to-end self service processes for their customers.
  • Sites that don’t require extensive marketing or promotion to grow. User generated content, intelligent automated referral systems, long standing promotional mechanisms like permanent referral links and cross promotional agreements are examples of methods that reduce the need for manual marketing or promotion activity.
  • Simple business models like content websites that earn revenue from Adsense. Note that driving traffic to content sites may be anything but simple.
  • Sites that have automated maintenance tasks like new product uploads, comment moderation, credit card expiration notifications, etc., etc.
  • Sites that are less depend on customer communication in the pre and post-sale process.

There are many others, but you get the idea.

What if I’ve Already Purchased a Website, and it is NOT Passive Income?

If you are a dismayed owner of a website that requires more effort than you care to exert, you have a few choices.

Sell

I bought a site that sold software and, surprise, surprise, the customers expected the software to work, to be supported and to be upgraded from time to time. It was profitable but it got tiring pretty quick. I sold it after a year and a half.

It might be hard to sell to people who have read this article unless they have a particular interest in your niche or business model.

Delegate or Outsource

If your business has enough margin to cover the cost, almost anything can be delegated to an employee, outsourced to a freelancer or contracted out to a service agency. Many tasks may not be as expensive as you think, particularly if you go the freelancer route. Do this with your eyes wide open and choose your resources carefully or you could generate more stress than you avoid.

Change or Tweak the Business Model

Consider changing business models entirely or modifying the model. Consider these ideas:

  • Move from a self-ship to drop ship, or send your inventory to Amazon and let them manage fulfillment with their FBA service.
  • Instead of selling and servicing your own products, pivot and sell some or all products as an affiliate so they take care of customers for you.
  • Replace physical product sales with digital product sales.
  • Eliminate services or replace with simpler ones.

Automate

There is a plethora of amazing, readily available software that can make your life much easier. Finding, installing and configuring the software may be a chore, but ultimately well worth it. Even these activities can be outsourced if you spend some time looking for the right help.

I can’t begin to list the thousands of painful tasks that can be performed with a little automation and system analysis. Just search for “automate ________” and fill in the blank with your pain point like Facebook Posting, email management, order processing or ad creation and see what Google suggests. Talk to people running similar websites or at least visit their site and become their customer to see how they have automated processes.

Final Word

Passive income is a Holy Grail that we all seek and are willing to pay a little more for. Tell me your experiences with passive and non-passive website investments in the comments below!


Jeff Hunt wrote The Website Investor: The Guide To Buying Online Website Businesses For Passive Income. In addition to running his own portfolio of websites, Jeff helps entrepreneurs buy and optimize their web businesses. Learn more at www.OwnOptimize.com and www.HeckYeah.org.

7 Tips to Create Irresistible Content

7 Tips to Create Irresistible Content

Over the years, internet marketing has gone through many changes. From social media to SEO to paid ads, the next trend is always right around the corner. However, one fact remains unchanged—content is king. No matter what you’re doing, content can almost always provide your audience with lasting value and keep them interested in what you have going on. With that in mind, if you can create irresistible content, you’re going to be a step ahead of the competition.

There are many ways for you to create irresistible content for whatever niche you’re targeting, but there are certain principles that can help you make content that can get readers interested. Below is a list of the top 7 most important things to do in order to create irresistible content for your audience.

1. Entice Your Readers with an Intriguing Title

First impressions do last, and the title is what brings readers in. It doesn’t have to be a clickbait headline that people on the internet hate these days, but at least make it something that gets people curious about the contents of the post itself. Whatever you do, make sure the content does fulfill the promise that the title puts forward.

The title must explain what is in the post, but it should conceal enough to have people want to read what you have to say. The title is like a teaser that hides a bigger prize, and reading the post must have a payoff that leaves the reader satisfied with what was written.

Leonardo Dicaprio Curiousity

Image Source: Quickmeme.com

There are various intriguing title ideas you can do without spending too much time. If you need some help choosing title for your next article, you can use the following tips:

  • Lessons learned – Your readers will definitely want know what you have learned in your subject area for their benefits in the future.
  • Use numbers – Using numbers in your headlines.
  • Use WH questions – These type of titles are already interested in nature. As an example, check this intriguing title by Flippa, How much is my website worth? Website valuations explained.

2. Keep the Momentum Using a Killer Opener

Now that you have a powerful title, it’s important to follow that up with a powerful opener to keep your readers engaged. Having a good introduction to your post is key to really hooking them in. If you have a clickbait title only to have a badly-written post with a weak intro, there’s a good chance readers will refrain from visiting your website in the future.

The introductory paragraph should contain the main idea of the whole post, saying enough about the contents while still leaving some details out that can be found in the succeeding paragraphs. It must then make sense once the reader finishes going through the post, thus being rewarded for reading the entire thing.

Every paragraph should always get your readers excited to read on. Take a look at the introductory section of Robert Mening in his tutorial blog post. Robert stated remarkable highlights of his website development career, which are intriguing.

You can also do the same, there are a lot of tips you can use to hook in your readers to reading your content. Try following these tips:

  • Highlight some facts or influencer quote in your introduction that are worth mentioning in your introductory paragraph.
  • Give a little sneak peak of what your content will cover. Let your readers read everything you have written.

3. Include Attractive & Catchy Visuals.

Use visuals to break up your text. If your post is just a wall of text, most people won’t even bother reading what you wrote. Images in a blog post are like summaries that can be identified in a glance, and they can get readers more curious about the details behind them, thus urging them to read more of your post, and having high quality and creative images increases that effect. They both attract and encourage readers to spend more time reading whatever you have to say about a topic.

Take a look at the post Jamie Spencer wrote on his personal blog: must-known to do’s when looking for a webhost. If you scroll down, you’ll notice he included an attractive infographic that provides a physical demonstration while also providing useful content.

4. Use Tweetable Quotes to Encourage Sharing

People like quotes (whether it’s from a movie or TV show they just watched), or a clever tweet or status in social media. Take this to your advantage by embedding tweets and statuses relevant to the topic on your posts, as well as making use of hashtags and other features to make people want to share them.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be current online trends and memes that are hot at the moment, although those can definitely help. Pay attention to things that are going on at the moment and pounce on opportunities that your blog can make use of.

One prominent advantage of tweetable quotes is they attract more readers to your content. Take a look at this post on Hubspot, the idea is enable people to share your content by sharing a statement that your readers will engage with. By creating opportunities like this, you’ll be receiving additional exposure outside your normal Facebook share or retweet.

To attract your readers voluntarily share your quotes, try the following tips:

  • Make your statement stand out from your content. If you use WordPress, try using the blockquote.
  • Add significant meaning behind your statement.
  • Make it short and simple. Remember: Tweets can only be 140 characters.

For more information about tweetable quotes, check out this post on BloggerJet.

5. Create Emotional Triggers

Always remember that the readers are human, so you must not just appeal to their intellect but also to their emotions. This is something marketers realized in the early 20th century with the advent of public relations, and it still rings true to this day.

Using emotion in your content is all about empathy and gratitude. The types of emotional triggers you should produce depends on your blog goals. If your goal in your blog is to help people earn money online, giving them inspirational posts will do such as:

  • Giving them ideas on how to earn money online
  • Sharing your income you made online in the previous year
  • Providing them tips and tricks on how they can earn online in a short period of time.

6. Think Evergreen

Evergreen content is content that remains relevant over time. The longer the shelf life of a post is, the more readers it can attract over a longer period of time. News and other timely posts excel at maintaining regularity of content for your website, but they have short shelf lives as they don’t remain relevant over time. That’s why those timely posts have to be coupled with evergreen posts that will remain relevant for years.

Evergreen content can include lists, guides, and other interesting posts that offer great value to a wide array of readers. Evergreen posts don’t have to be as long as novels, but they should at least be informative and entertaining at the same time.

7. Pitching is Mediocre. Tell a Story Instead.

Nothing triggers emotion more than a good story.

People love stories, which is why we hear so much about storytelling in marketing these days. It leads back to what was mentioned in the previous item about creating emotional triggers; nothing triggers emotion more than a good story. It doesn’t have to be very deep and intricate, but it does have to contain a human element in order to have people relate to it.

When you pitch, people immediately realize that you’re trying to sell them something, and most of them will just turn away. Most people don’t like being solicited to, which is why you have to take a more human approach. Telling a story is as human as it can get, and you’d be surprised just how effective it can really be.

These are just the basic fundamentals of what is an intricate art in creating irresistible content, but they can carry you on your journey towards finding your own voice for your content. If you also have your own tried and tested methods, please tell us about them on the comments section below.